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New York Trails

West Ramp of Mt. Colden, Adirondacks, NY

Head off the beaten—or any—path on one of the Adirondacks more obscure slide paths.

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As far as I know, I’m only the second person to try this hike. After stumbling upon a brief online post about a slide on the west side of Mt. Colden, NY, I decided to lace up my bushwhacking boots. A short backpack and a night at Avalanche Lake later and here I am, clinging to a 40-degree slope above the forested edges of Lake Colden, staring down rock-capped Algonquin and Iroquois Peaks from a perspective  few others have experienced. The Adirondacks are popular for slide climbs—typically non-technical walks up long slabs of anorthosite rock, wiped clean by a landslide in the distant (or sometimes not-so-distant) past. Mt. Colden has more than a few of them, but this one is truly a hidden gem. The actual bushwhacking is minimal, and with every step I take, the views over my shoulder get better. And for now it’s all mine.

Trip Stats
Distance: 13.4 Difficulty: 4.5/5 Rating: 4/5 Duration: 2 days

Turn-by-Turn from Heart Lake

  1. Follow Van Hoevenberg Trail south to Marcy Dam at mile 2.25.
  2. At the dam, turn south toward Avalanche Pass, bearing right at mile 3.3 at Avalanche Camp. Follow the wooden scaffolding bolted to the rock face above the water along Avalanche Lake to the lake’s southern end, then look for one of two campsites to the left at mile 4.9 and pitch camp for the night.
  3. The next morning, continue south toward Lake Colden, looking for a streambed that meets the trail near mile 5.25. You should see the slide rising above the trees to the east. Follow the streambed to the base of the slide. 
  4. Follow the slide up and then left into an adjacent and connected path, topping out near mile 7. 
  5. Duck into the trees and head up and left for the summit ridge. Follow that to the top at mile 7.4. 
  6. From the summit, meet up with another trail and take it north down Colden’s northeast ridge to Lake Arnold at mile 8.6. 
  7. Turn left at the lake, descending back to Avalanche Camp at mile 10.1. 
  8. Retrace your steps past Marcy Dam to the trailhead at mile 13.4.

Permit None; all sites are first-come, first-serve Contact Lake Placid GPX

Luckily this particular ramp doesn’t have enough bushes for any serious bushwhacking. Photo: Ryan Wichelns